Health Beat: Ocular melanoma: Saving lives, saving eyes

Health Beat: Ocular melanoma: Saving lives, saving eyes

CLEVELAND - Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States.

Although rare, it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.

"I make sweaters, vests, a lot of mittens and hats," said Sally Martin, who knits every day.

But when she started losing vision in her right eye, Martin's hobby became more difficult.

"I thought it was related to being over 50 and you lose some close-up vision," said Martin, who found out it was something much more serious – uveal melanoma.

"It is not a minor or an insignificant kind of cancer," said Dr. Arun Singh, director of ophthalmic oncology, Cole Eye Institute and Taussing Cancer Center, The Cleveland Clinic.

Patients with eye melanomas that have spread have only a 15 percent survival rate.

Martin's doctor caught hers before it spread, so she was a candidate for a type of radiation known as brachytherapy. A gold disc was stitched directly on Martin's eye.

"They are seeds within a disc like a radioactive button," Singh said.

Martin wore the disc for three days in the hospital. During that time, the radioactive seeds targeted the cancer. She still has a blind spot in her right eye, but she's happy to be cancer-free.

"I feel very fortunate that it was caught early, and that my prognosis is very good," explained Martin, who can now focus on making more of her favorite things. 

The method has a 95 percent success rate for patients whose tumors haven't spread. Some patients do not have any symptoms when they have melanoma of the eye. It depends on where the tumor is located. Those patients typically do not catch the cancer until it has already spread. It spreads to other organs in the body in about half of all cases.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary and an in-depth interview with the doctor

DISCLAIMER FOR COMMENTS: The views expressed by public comments are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the TERMS OF USE  and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Your comments may be used on air. Be polite. Inappropriate posts or posts containing offsite links may be removed by the moderator.

Allentown, PA 18102




  • %

This Week's Circulars

Latest from the newsroom